New walk and bike detour for Music City Grand Prix

Bike route changes are in place weeks before race weekend
Posted at 9:49 AM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 13:09:43-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Walking and biking advocates were incensed when the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix shut down the pedestrian bridge during the private, 3-day event last year.

Advocates see the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge as the only safe way to cross the river without a car.

The controversy spurred Walk Bike Nashville to create a still-active petition which has garnered around 700 signatures, demanding the city create policy to keep public infrastructure public during special events.

This year, things are different.

"It's been a much better process than last year," said Walk Bike Nashville Executive Director Meredith Montgomery. "We've been involved in those conversations, and organizers have been proactive in reaching out to us and keeping us in mind."

As crews build the barriers and grandstands for the races next month, they will also build a special temporary bike lane, using full construction barriers to keep cyclists safe on S. Fifth Street, the only street along the designated detour that does not include a sidewalk or bike lane, says Event Operations Manager Dennis Freeman.

Montgomery said this year's collaboration is an example all event planners should follow.

"We would love for there to never be any closures at all, but we also know that Nashville is a city of big events. And just wanting that to be a part of the conversation with any event is thinking through this and making sure there are safe alternatives for people," she said.

She and others who walk and bike around Davidson County say the issue of blocking public routes goes beyond organized events.

"This is an everyday issue. I actually just got an email last week from somebody who sent me a picture of a dumpster just placed in a greenway, or [for example] there's cars parking in a bike lane, or there's lawn equipment sitting on a sidewalk. This is not just the big events. It’s a culture shift that needs to happen, that we have to respect these pathways. This is how people get around," she said.

Montgomery plans to present the petition to Metro Council and the mayor's office next month. She says she feels confident it can help enact local policy change.

"We've got momentum here, and if we can get citizens to speak up, I think the time is right that this can lead to a policy," Montgomery said.

Bike detours currently in place

It takes weeks to build the track, the grandstands and the separate areas for the Grand Prix. For the next three weeks, cyclists have two options: using Shelby Avenue to the Korean Veterans Memorial bridge where there are wide sidewalks outside the barricades between Second Street on the east side and First Avenue downtown.

Or cyclists have the option to use the pedestrian bridge, which will remain open until race weekend.

Bike detours during race weekend

During the event, S. Fifth Street will include a temporary bike lane, complete with construction barriers to get cyclists to Davidson Street.

That becomes First Street and will connect cyclists to a parking area under Korean Veterans Boulevard.

From there a quick ride along the sidewalk near the river will connect them to the elevator for the Pedestrian Bridge which will be accessible for cyclists to connect to downtown.

The bridge will not be open east of the elevator.

This is a compromise that organizers and advocates reached to make sure people who walk and bike can cross the river, even during the event.